Stephane Alimasi, Secretary at HEAL Africa
We have lived this war in a climate of fear. We were waiting for the crackling of bullets, bombs. We stayed in our houses without moving, we were hungry, no market were open to buy food, and until now in the city of Goma there is neither water nor electricity. It is a catastrophic situation which would bring us diseases like cholera and other diarrheal diseases. We are humanitarians, we want peace, and we are ready to work with everyone.
Doctor Luc Malemo, Surgeon at HEAL Africa
It was very stressful. I got back from a trip to South Africa and had just arrived on Monday around 1 pm. At about 2 pm an ambulance came to pick me up at home before I had a chance to rest, because there were wounded that needed to be cared for. When I arrived at the hospital we found many people who needed to be operated on. We spent all night at the hospital in the operating room. We received 32 patients that day; one died, the others are in good health.
While I was working, I knew that I was insecure—bullets could find me as well, but I had to make the choice between leaving patients on the operating table and keeping myself safe, but I chose to continue to work, knowing that God protects the whole team, and actually God did protect all the people who were at HEAL Africa Hospital that night, no one was hurt.
Now everyone is asking questions about the future. I think we should let a little time go by, we don’t know what is happening.
Doctor Justin Lussy, OB-GYN at HEAL Africa
A huge terror descended on the city and on HEAL Africa. Everyone wanted to get out of town, but we realized that we are doctors, that there would be wounded people that we could not leave. A few moments later we started to receive the wounded. We stayed at the hospital all day and all night, and so fulfilled our responsibility as doctors.
We were a bit stressed-out, and we were afraid, but we knew that God was with us, and that he would help us do our work.
What meant a lot to me was that here were bullets shattering all over, but neither the soldiers who left town, nor those who came in bothered us at the hospital.
We were particularly moved by the types of patients we received: lots of children, pregnant women. I remember a child of 12 who lost his left arm; it was really, really sad.
We see the future with a lot of hope. We know that the whole world is praying for us; we are receiving messages of encouragement from everywhere and that gives us both strength and confidence.
Doctor in Goma
We were in the house, near the airport of Goma, that’s where the war was happening. Really, it was gunfire we’d never heard like that before. My little daughter couldn’t stop crying at the top of her lungs. She cried, she didn’t know what was going on, all Monday night and Tuesday, she didn’t sleep. It’s only Wednesday that she spent the day sleeping. I wasn’t calm, I just prayed that God would save my daughter because she knew nothing of this war.
I think that if it is really peace that they are bringing to us, they are welcome. But if it is not peace, I think that our God is there for justice and peace, and He will give it to us if they don’t want to give it to us.
Nelly Salome, Nurse at HEAL Africa
This Monday I was here at the hospital when I saw the wounded arrive. We received them and gave them care. At a point I was really frustrated, but according to the oath I made and the suffering of the patients that were coming, I decided to be courageous and to do my work. At one point, there was a bomb in the area of Birere and an explosion. I was really afraid, I didn’t know what to do, but I couldn’t flee, because thought that if I ran away, the patients would be tempted to follow me, and there were many among them whose sutures hadn’t healed after their fistula surgery, and they could not leave.
For the moment, I think there’s still a lot of fear in the city, peace is not yet returned.
Albetina Lubanda, Patient at HEAL Africa.
We were too afraid, we were here on the second floor of the hospital, but we decided to go to the ground floor to not get hit by the bombs. We were shivering with fear, we thought that we were going to die.
Now, we don’t know what will happen next, and we don’t know what everyone else thinks, but we only want peace, no matter who leads us.
Lodia Muagatera, Patient at HEAL Africa
We were so frightened, we were in our beds, after having been operated on, when we heard the gunshots. We felt like our sutures would open up, but the doctors encouraged us, and asked us not to be afraid.
I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, but I want peace for our country and that they stop fighting for nothing.
Journalist, Resident of Goma
I had been reporting on the war, when I returned to the house. I asked my children to go inside the house when I saw one of my children who was getting water outside, lying on the ground, who’d just been hit by a bullet. We took her to the HEAL Africa hospital, where they operated and removed her spleen. The doctors are still taking care of her.
For the moment, there’s nothing for us to do. God alone knows the future, but as M23 has said they’ve come to free us, we ask them to first restore water and electricity in the city of Goma, because we can’t survive the bullets and die of hunger and thirst.
Jacques Kaliki, doctor at HEAL Africa
It was complicated, we were getting ready to go home, when suddenly we saw these wounded arrive. There were bombs that had fallen on their houses. We received them and treated them. It wasn’t easy to care for them under fire, but we had sworn the oath of Hippocrates, and gave them the best of ourselves, and we saved the patients who are in good health today.
I was particularly moved to receive a pregnant woman who’d been hit. Unfortunately the child was already dead in her womb, and we weren’t able to save it.
Baruti Kamana, War wounded, Resident of Goma
I was at the house talking on the phone with a friend, saying that there were bullets crackling a bit everywhere. While I was sitting in the room, I saw the explosion of a bomb—which hit my tibia and clavicle. That’s how they brought me here to the hospital where I’ve received care.
But I’m really stressed out; I don’t see how I should have been wounded in this war. For the moment I can’t even think about the future, because to think of the future of the country, one must first be sure of being able and capable of contributing something. And it’s after I’m healed that I will be able to think about it.
We were at the house when we heard the gunshots. We stayed in the house, traumatized, wondering if we would survive.
And now, we think that if it’s true that M23 has a good plan for the country, let them finish it once and for all, instead of continuing to stress us all the time…If their goal is to bring us peace, we are fine with living with them on a daily basis. We have already suffered a lot, and we only need peace.